Sales managers sometimes use a quote to motivate their teams. Those words state that nothing happens in a business until a person sells something. A flurry of activities might happen behind the scenes at a company. But it takes sales of products or services to prompt or support those activities.
A sales team consists of the people who drive revenue for the company. However, they also become stewards of your brand, as they develop beneficial relationships with clients. When your salesforce burns out or loses steam, it can negatively impact your business’s success. That’s why equipping your team with top performers and playing to their strengths is so important. Below are four ways business owners or sales managers can accomplish this.
1. Use Tech Tools for Hiring and Training
All managers have blind spots when it comes to hiring team members and evaluating their on-the-job performance. Sometimes you only see snippets of client interactions or get too focused on quarterly results. Recruiting processes, including interviews, might tilt hiring processes in some candidates’ favor while overlooking others.
Hiring managers tend to gravitate toward similar people or candidates that remind them of themselves. Everything from job descriptions to interviewing questions might be rife with confirmation bias. The same judgments can happen when leaders conduct performance reviews and identify training or mentoring opportunities. They’re basing decisions on what they believe makes a good salesperson, often only listening to their gut reaction or personal experience.
But others’ ideas and outside tools are often necessary to get a more objective and accurate perspective. For instance, technologies utilizing artificial intelligence can run sales performance analytics to determine what qualities high performers possess. These tools use benchmarks and data from customers, sales teams, and business outcomes to arrive at unbiased conclusions. Managers can quickly identify beneficial training opportunities and who will make a great hire.
2. Establish Realistic and Meaningful Goals
Motivation and empowerment begin with an objective. If your sales team doesn’t know its target, you can’t expect them to aim for it. Likewise, a team won’t see the point in trying if the target is too ambitious. As a manager, your employees are looking to you to steer the ship by giving them something attainable to achieve.
Goals can also align with popular motivational theories. For instance, you might offer bonuses to team members who meet or exceed their annual sales goals. While a bonus gives sales teams a financial incentive, not all employees are driven by money. Some motivational theories, such as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, place financial needs at the bottom of the pyramid.
Your benchmarks should appeal to higher-level needs, such as esteem and self-actualization. Sales teams will also feel empowered by non-financial rewards and recognition, such as positive feedback and stretch assignments. Even though sales are a numbers game, employees often want to know the “why” behind a given target. Managers who tie sales objectives into an overall purpose give sales teams additional context and meaning.
3. Create a Culture of Trust
In theory, most managers know the dangers of micromanagement. However, knowing something in the back of your mind and putting it into practice are two different beasts. Some leaders create cultures based on fear instead of trust because they haven’t experienced anything else. As creatures of habit, people often repeat what they know and see others do, even with opposite intentions.
With micromanagement behaviors, sales leaders might believe they’re being helpful or coaching their team. Yet, the effects of micromanagement can be like bullying. Some experts even state this leadership style is a form of workplace bullying. Besides a loss of motivation, employees might experience depression, anxiety, and lower self-esteem and confidence. Your sales team could also become afraid of losing their job or experiencing retaliation from you or other company leaders.
Unfortunately, a culture of fear results in employees who go through the motions and perform the bare minimum. They stop contributing their insights and knowledge, saying yes to whatever the leader says to avoid confrontation or job loss. Creating cultures of trust, where managers take a step back and show they believe in their employees’ abilities, empowers them. They’re more likely to speak up, innovate, and feel motivated to achieve the company’s objectives.
4. Practice Open and Effective Communication
Good communication must exist for employee-employer relationships to work. When sales teams are guessing what comes next and what managers mean, it creates confusion. When people are left out of the loop or they’re caught off guard, it’s a disservice to the team. You might also cause frustration if you expect employees to communicate but you don’t practice what you preach.
Team and one-on-one meetings are methods managers typically use. Getting the group together helps ensure everyone gets on the same page. Individual chats give employees time and space to clarify questions and discuss situations that may not apply to the team. Both group and private meetings involve face-to-face time, which creates an instant, two-way feedback loop. Employees get what they need to perform their jobs, and you get a pulse on what’s happening in the field.
However, effective communication isn’t something that only happens in meetings. Managers can practice good communication in emails, voicemails, documents, and online discussions. For example, forwarding the team an email conversation between you and your boss without any context will be confusing.
While the email may have helpful information, employees won’t know what to do with it. Add context to clarify why you’re forwarding the email and any actions you expect your team to take. This way, the team won’t dismiss the email’s details or worry about how it applies to their jobs.
Empowering Sales Teams
Sales teams that feel empowered and motivated tend to deliver the performance companies want. High-performing teams develop the quality of client relationships it takes to bring in the numbers. But sales employees need strong leaders to produce desired business outcomes. Sales managers who use effective technologies and leadership styles can create environments that encourage rather than block achievement.
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